January 17, 2021

Is Reich Right?

In the interesting and significant file is the rhetoric of Robert Reich on the “Coming War Between Conservative Christians and Freedom Loving Liberals.” NRO summarizes the Reich article in The American Prospect:

The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief. The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma. Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But terrorism itself is not the greatest danger we face.

At least some of Reich’s rhetoric appears to be grounded in personal atheism, but I don’t know that for a fact. I think Reich is brilliant, and passionate. He frequently is ahead of the curve of caution that rules most political discourse. (That’s why he became an out-man in the Clinton White House.) That he’s picked this issue is significant, because it signals that liberals feel Christians have extended themselves too far in this “culture war,” and it is now safe to hit back hard in the most incindiary terms.

Is Reich correct that Religious conservatives have betrayed conservatism itself by denouncing the TRADITION of religious tolerance and advocating a theocracy? Well, I think what we have here, like it or not, is the arrival of the fact that evangelicalism is now broadcasting its voice on a LOT of channels (so to speak) and many of those channels sound like “cultural conquest,” “Christian domination of society” and even some kind of theocratic ideal. You and I as moderate to liberal evangelicals may avoid these voices, but they are there, from Dobson to Gary North, from The Kansas City Prophets to Jerry Falwell, from TBN to CCM, from Ken Ham to Kent Hovind. They are out there, they get a lot of applause, and they are intemperate in their endorsement of what sounds like Christians running America AT THE EXPENSE of the freedoms of non-believers or other-than-Bible-thumping believers.

Reich is right (and pragmatically wise) to sound the alarm at this point, even though he doesn’t understand the theological/social context of a lot of evangelical yammering, a context that keeps most observers from jumping up and screaming. Still, we have a situation where a significant number of conservative evangelicals sound like they are advocating Christians taking over society, ruling over the secular realm, etc. How does this sound to people like Reich? Call it political rhetoric if you want, I think Jim Dobson and Jerry Falwell and the generals of the SBC sound darned scary to a lot of very reasonable people.

I think things have gotten bad enough that lines like this- which sounded absurd a few years ago- will now resonate with a lot of people. A LOT.

In the months leading up to Election Day, when Republicans are screaming about God and accusing the Democrats of siding with sexual deviants and baby killers, Democrats should remind Americans that however important religion is to our spiritual lives, there is no room for liberty in a theocracy.

NRO responded. Maybe you’ll send along some other links to this discussion.

My conclusion: Reich has sensed the wind, and conservative evangelicals are ripe for a frontal attack on this issue. And deservedly so. This kind of atmosphere will make the lies of a movie like Farenheit 911 seem “fair” because the threat needs to be defeated. In that sense, can you see how the reaction to “The Passion” is related to the endorsement of F911?


  1. Hello Michael

    You haven’t really listened to James Dobson, in context or out, if you think he is saying “really scary” things. Could you provide an example?

  2. First of all…what did I say?

    “I think Jim Dobson and Jerry Falwell and the generals of the SBC sound darned scary to a lot of very reasonable people.”

    He doesn’t scare me, but it scares a lot of reasonable people to hear someone talking about Christian politicians being elected with the explicit agenda of promoting the Christian view of homosexuality, or parenthood or marriage. As I said, I understand the inside lingo. A lot of people don’t. The Culture war is scary talk.

    But for a specific, how about giving out Michael Moore’s home address?


  3. And why shouldn’t we promote the “Christian” view of sexuality and marriage? The hedonist/self-centric view destroys the foundations of orderly human society.

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